December 24, 2023

Flu vs COVID vs RSV

Flu vs COVID vs RSV (Respiratory Illness)

Identifying respiratory illnesses can be challenging, especially when symptoms overlap. With the onset of flu season and the persistent threat of COVID-19, it’s more important than ever to distinguish between these respiratory infections. The US is currently experiencing elevated rates of COVID, flu, and RSV- and hospital visits for these illnesses are increasing as well. 

Seeking timely medical attention is key, and that’s why we encourage you to consult your healthcare provider if you experience any symptoms. The good news? You can now get tested for COVID, flu, and RSV simultaneously, streamlining the diagnostic process and ensuring a comprehensive assessment of your health.

Virus Comparison

Flu Covid RSV
Fever or chills
Sore throat
Runny or stuffy nose
Muscle or body aches
Fatigue (tiredness)
Fever or chills
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Muscle or body aches
New loss of taste or smell
Sore throat
Congestion or runny nose
Nausea or vomiting
Coughing or wheezing
Runny nose
Decreased appetite
Symptoms begin 1 to 4 days after infection. Symptoms begin 2 to 14 days after infection. Symptoms begin 4 to 6 days after infection.

Triple Virus Epidemic

Our community is facing a triple epidemic. The rates of COVID, flu, and RSV are increasing rapidly. Based on HNL Lab Medicine data, from the beginning of October to the beginning of December:
  • COVID positivity rates have increased 135.75% (156 to 422)
  • RSV positivity rates have increased 1824% (27 to 481)
  • Flu positivity rates have increased 3162% (8 to 261)
The increases in illness put many at risk. These numbers highlight a serious situation, and it’s crucial for all of us to take steps to protect ourselves and others, like getting vaccinated, getting tested, and following recommended safety measures. Together, we can work to keep our community safe and healthy.

Triple Virus Testing

Because of the similarity in symptoms, it can be difficult to determine which of these viruses is causing your illness. Don’t wait or guess- the best way to know is to get tested. Fortunately, HNL Lab Medicine offers testing that checks for all three viruses. Simply head to your healthcare provider or closest urgent care center to get tested for all three viruses.

Timely testing not only helps you understand your condition but also plays a crucial role in preventing the further spread of these viruses within our community. By taking this simple yet impactful step, you contribute to the collective effort to protect yourself and others. 


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023, November 08). COVID-19. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023, November 21). Influenza (Flu). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023, November 07). Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection (RSV). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.